Love lit a fire in my chest, and anything

that wasn't love left: intellectual

subtlety, philosophy

books, school.


All I want now

to do or hear

is poetry.


- Rumi

translated by Coleman Barks



The Christian mystic and teacher, Thomas Merton, wrote that: "One cannot...enter into meditation...without a kind of inner upheaval. By upheaval I do not mean a disturbance, but a breaking out of routine, a liberation of the heart from the cares and preoccupations of one's daily business."

When I want to break my routine, I may visit my garden, or I may turn to my bookshelf. Over the years, I have found reading poetry to be one of the most rewarding and practical spiritual disciplines. A friend of mine recently told me that she appreciates poems because they are surrounded by so much silence. Indeed, reading a poem requires us to enter a place of stillness that throws us out of the forced hurriedness that we have created for ourselves. Silence provides its own sense of upheaval in our noisy lives.

I consider many poems to be lifelong friends. The links below will introduce you to a few that I hope will befriend you.


For every poet it is always morning in the world; history a forgotten, insomniac night. The fate of poetry is to fall in love with the world in spite of history.

- Derek Walcott

The Way of Love, by Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks

Expands His Being, by Meister Eckhart

i thank you God for most this amazing, by e.e. cummings

To the Unseeable Animal, by Wendell Berry

The Hidden Singer, by Wendell Berry

This Morning Our Boat Left, anonymous T'ang Dynasty Chinese Poem translated by Kenneth Rexroth

Enlightenment, Ch'en Yu Yi, translated by Kenneth Rexroth

Psalm 1, translated by Stephen Mitchell

The Journey, by Mary Oliver

The Summer Day, by Mary Oliver

In Blackwater Woods, by Mary Oliver

Twilight Comes, by Hayden Carruth

Twilight Comes, by Wang Wei, translated by Kenneth Rexroth

Japan, by Billy Collins

This Much I Do Remember, by Billy Collins

The Moose, by Elizabeth Bishop

Touch Me, by Stanley Kunitz

Startled by God, by Hafiz

The following links take you to some of my own poems, most culled from the pages of the Daily Muse.

Walls Left Untended

The Web

Haiku and Other Short Form Poems

The Night Companion

Pinyon Jays

This Wonder

The Pond

Empty Branches


Painting the Annunciation

The Donkey and the Ox

Gathered Stones

Shelling Pecans

Vallecitos Morning

Summer Morning

The Source

Back to Soul of the Garden Introduction/Home


Soul of the Garden
by Tom Spencer